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Mark Reid — Getaway! archives and development documents

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Mark Reid — Getaway! archives and development documents


Published January 6, 2017
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A trove of material from Mark Reid, creator of the award-winning computer game Getaway!, which was published by Atari Program Exchange in 1982. An interview with Mark was published in episode 19 of the Player/Missile podcast. 

Mark wrote the following in an email to Rob McMullen and Kevin Savetz, on January 6 2017:

"The first section is my written notes when developing Getaway from initial ideas to programming to debugging.  I don’t think this is all my notes, but I I kept a lot of them.  I didn’t include a printout of the program listing because it is very long and I’m not sure the printout I have is even the final version.  Hopefully you can recover it from the disks I’ll send.  It is interesting to me to see how the concept evolved and some of the things that I changed or didn’t include, but also how much stayed intact.  The first draft of the playfield I did on graph paper (which wouldn’t quite fit on my scanner) is not too different from the final one as far as the roads are concerned.  The dead end was one thing I added after play testing.  The scenery details however were very sketchy until I wrote a playfield editor to work it out on-screen.

The second section is correspondence from APX related to the first three programs I submitted and then later about Getaway!  This section also includes letters about the quarterly prizes.  That first acceptance letter was incredibly exciting; they all were!  The rejection letter was for Munchies, a Pac Man clone, which deserved to be rejected.

The third section is about debugging and compatibility issues.  Rob, you asked during our interview about the product improvement and debugging process with APX which I recalled was mostly by phone, but I did find a few documents related to that.  One letter I sent to APX also included the list of Atari products I wanted to get with the $1000 dollar merchandise prize that Downhill won in a quarterly contest.  You can see that the first thing on my list was a disk drive. Hallelujah!  No more listening to the sound of the cassette tape machine for hours on end!

The fourth section contains the (mostly) quarterly “state of the APX” letters from marketing.  The progression of APX can be traced in these letters and in hindsight the final one hinted at the beginning of decline, but certainly didn’t foreshadow the sudden demise to come.  I’ve included the 1983 Christmas card from APX.  Those folks had no clue they’d be out of a job in six months.

The fifth section marks the acme for Getaway! at the Atari Star Awards in January 1984.  My favorite section of course.

The last section covers things from after APX folded.  There is a letter from Antic when they started their software catalog and wanted to include some previous APX titles.  I wanted them to sell Getaway!, but was concerned with agreeing because I had signed the exclusive agreement with Atari (see Getaway Submission PDF.)  The letter has my hand written notes on it about what I needed to do.  Then there are letters I wrote to Atari’s legal department which went unanswered.  In hindsight I shouldn’t have worried and just gone ahead and agreed to let Antic sell it.  There is also a letter from Paul Cubbage that I had forgotten about.  Some of the previous APX employees started up a new company, Main Street Publishing, to pick up where APX left off.  I don’t think anything ever really came of it though.

I’ve also included a photo taken in the APX parking lot with Paul Cubbage (then director of APX) in September 1982.  As I mentioned in the interview our family took a vaction to California and drove up the coast from LA to Petaluma where my relatives lived.  We made many wonderful stops along the way, but for me the highlight was talking my folks into finding APX headquarters.  This was after Solitaire and Downhill were already in the APX catalog, but before I had submitted Getaway!  I had a copy of the Getaway! program listing in my suitcase so I could work on it in my spare time, but I don’t recall doing much of that.  I got to meet the whole staff because they happened to be in a staff meeting at the time and everyone there was so nice to me and gave me a tour of the facilities.  I remember mentioning the new program I was working on, but they didn’t seem too enthused about the concept.  Paul Cubbage was a genuinely nice guy.  My dad worked for Eastman Kodak and I remember Paul saying what a great company it was and how he hoped Atari could be like them and last as long as they had.  Well, Kodak sure lasted longer than Atari, but they ultimately had their reckoning too (after my Dad retired.)

I hope you guys enjoy browsing this material half as much as I did.  I really appreciate your interest.  It brings fond memories to an old guy (just turned 60) and makes me feel young again. ...  Best regards and have a great 2017!


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